Strawberries Get Sweeter

Strawberries shown to slow motor problems and death caused by Huntington's disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A naturally occurring compound found in strawberries and other produce has been shown to slow motor problems and death associated with three models of Huntington's disease.

An inherited disorder that destroys neurons in certain areas of the brain, Huntington's disease causes patients to gradually lose their ability to walk, talk and reason.

In previous research, scientists found that fistein -- a compound found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables -- provided neuroprotective and memory-enhancing effects by activating the Ras/ERK signaling pathway, which is important in brain development, learning, memory and cognition.

According to a study from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researchers began by looking at a nerve cell line that could be made to express a mutant form of the protein called huntingtin, which in part causes the disease. The researchers found that when they administered fistein to fruit flies with overexpressing mutant huntingtin in neurons in the brain, the flies lived longer and had fewer eye defects compared to flies with the same mutant protein that did not receive the compound.

Although fistein did not reverse or halt Huntington's disease, it helped promote motor function and caused the flies to live longer, according to Pamela Maher, Ph.D., a senior staff scientist in the Salk Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory.

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Review Date: 
January 10, 2011
Last Updated:
January 10, 2011